‘‘When tyrannies take over it is because people volunteer their liberty voluntarily.” A bold pronouncement, but what we have come to expect from Lord Sumption, former Supreme Court judge, in his campaign to defend civil liberties under lockdown.
What could persuade people to volunteer their liberty? Fear, in a word. Emergency situations call for emergency measures. The government responded swiftly to a pandemic despite scant evidence of the infectiousness and severity of Covid-19. The regulations were nodded through parliament to applause rather than opposition. But have the UK’s emergency laws and regulations been proportionate, the least intrusive available, strictly necessary and based on scientific evidence?
Sumption was one of four lawyers and a civil rights campaigner to whom I talked who have been vocal in their opposition to the lockdown laws. All were outspoken about their concerns for the rule of law and democracy.